UK. British Waterways licenses London's paddle powered water taxi on the Regent's Canal Little Venice

Wednesday, 27 August 2008
The new service, started today, is much like the gondola's in the Italian city of Venice, encourages waterway visitors to take to the water and enjoy a unique view of the capital.  Using paddle power alone, expert canoeists will transport visitors along the waterways in open kayaks, offering a carbon friendly method of travel through London. 

Traditional London taxi drivers transport visitors across the city, navigating through busy London streets and taking short-cuts memorised from their legendary test ‘The Knowledge'. But the canoeing cabbies will encourage their passengers to slow down, relax, take in the view and soak up the historic information, known as ‘Canowledge' as they paddle the canals at up to 4 mph.

The new canal venture has been floated by Thames River Adventures Limited, who offer a similar service on the non-tidal sections of the River Thames. The company, the first of its kind in the UK, is keen to encourage people to relax and get an alternative, duck's-eye perspective of the city.

Danny Gillard, Director, Thames River Adventures Limited, said: "The canal system in London is a real hidden gem, there's fantastic architecture, unusual views of the city and a wealth of wildlife.  The kayak-taxi offers everything from short paddle-powered journeys to longer tours, taking several hours to explore the waterways." 

"All of our guides are British Canoe Union qualified instructors and if passengers want to have a go themselves, we are happy to teach them as we go.  If the kayak service goes well, we have plans to design our very own gondola to add to our fleet of boats suitable for the inland waterways."

Louise Fishleigh, Leisure Development Manager for British Waterways London, explains: "Rickshaws have proved extremely popular in the West End and there's no reason why this waterway equivalent can't be just as successful.  There are lots of ways of enjoying London's waterways and we hope that this scheme will add a new dimension to the water buses already plying London's canals.  Whilst the kayaks will never be able to compete with London's iconic black cabs, the service offers an alternative method of getting from A to B, especially if you have some time to spare and prefer to see things a little differently.

The kayak-taxi is operating a seasonal timetable, available from April to October, and bookings are taken seven days a week. Sunrise and sunset tours are proving popular with advance bookings being taken, and if passengers have a particular route they want to paddle, a tour can be tailored to their request.
David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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